Most commercially sold smoked products that we find in sausage and deli meat section of our local outlets almost always come from cured parts of pork. These smoked meat come from large cuts of pork like ham, bacon, butt, loin, back fat, and smaller parts like hocks and jowls which require longer curing times and so most smokehouses have shortened the process by injecting the meat with the curing solution to hasten curing time.
If you cure and smoke at home, then you gain the benefit of being able to choose the meat you want or else you can also cure and smoke the whole animal. Another benefit if you cure and smoke at home is that you can use healthier ingredients for your smoked meat.
One that cures and smokes the traditional way need to have all the authentic ingredients that are put into the curing solution, but you can also create your own flavors by using ingredients that you like for your own traditional recipe. The thing that makes a better quality smoked meat is if you process it longer. Some of the high quality smoked meat products are quite expensive because of this long process. These are meat smokers that have replaced the traditional natural ingredients and natural processes to using chemicals since they hasten the process, and so the quality of the smoked meat you will be eating is no longer as healthy as the traditional smoked ones. This means that when you cure and smoke your own meat at home you will be eating those high quality healthy products while saving money.
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Today, the traditional craft of curing and smoking meat is coming back. In the days before refrigeration, the craft, which is about “preservation above all”, was an absolute necessity, and widely practiced and kept alive by artisans all these years. However, it is now attracting gourmands who want to do it themselves or people who has eaten so much supermarket stuff that has been pumped full of water and preservatives that allowed people to forget what bacon is supposed to take like.
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The process of making smoked products basically follows these steps: they include first and foremost, meat selection, curing- which includes salting and putting sugar to give it a sweet flavor and then make it set for a certain number of days (12 to 14 days is common), take it back out wash them and make it dry for around 2 days, it is then followed by conditioning and drying then by bringing it to a meat bench where you would apply seasoning ingredients like black, red and cayenne pepper, honey or molasses and make it stay before smoking, cooking, cooling and storing.
It is a great experience to smoke meat at home since you can apply your creativity in making your own traditional recipe from scratch or alter the original recipe to suit your preference. There is no one set time for curing and smoking, you can try experimenting on this on your own.